Traveling with the Family - A Month in China

    Our almost two years old daughter driving an airport car trolley.

    We’re just back from a wonderful trip to Shanghai, China. It was our first long flight (Berlin - Helsinki - Shanghai) with children, and while a challenge, it went really well overall. We’d like to share our experiences and offer you tips, as well as some handy products that can make your trip and stay more pleasant.

    Before The Trip

    Without children, packing and preparation used to be a breeze. We could pack in a few hours or less. With children, you need to be much more thoughtful about what to bring. While you probably will be fine as long as you have all the necessary travel documents, missing necessities can cause a lot of stress and make traveling with children a tough experience. To help you out, we have compiled a list of things you should consider bringing, based on our own experience.

    Portable Diaper Changing PadA must-have. During many of our trips, we had to change diapers on a bench, on the floor at the airport, or in other inconvenient locations. Perhaps there’s a massive queue for the sole available changing room (and you’ll miss your flight if you wait), or there aren’t any available. With a portable diaper-changing pad you are ready for all cases.
    StrollerWhether to bring one is an important thing to decide on upfront. Typically you can bring one free of charge. But of course, there are risks, e.g. it can be damaged, get lost or tough to fit in taxis together with all the other luggage you have. If your child is a little older, a good idea is to get a travel stroller, these are smaller and generally cheaper. An alternative is to lend, rent or buy a (used) stroller on-site, and sell it before you leave. We were a bit lucky this time because we could lend a GB Pockit Buggy from a friend after arriving in Shanghai. We were positvely surprised by this stroller, it was great and when folded became very tiny and easy to carry around.
    Baby Carrier (especially if no stroller)If you didn’t bring a stroller, a carrier is probably a must. The issue is that even if your children can walk, they might not want to all the time, or maybe want it a bit too much. Having to chase your children at the airport, or stopping them from walking where they aren’t allowed, can be a daunting task. A stroller or carrier helps with this and gives you free hands to get your tickets or other travel documents when needed, or look things up on your phone.
    Noise Cancellation HeadphonesOur 4-year-old son couldn’t focus when watching cartoons on the flight entertainment system. He watched a little, then lost focus and was a bit naughty. We then let him use our Bose QuietComfort headphones, and he immediately got immersed in watching the cartoon. To be honest, I was very surprised how big difference they made. And it made the flight much more quiet and comfortable also for us, and those sitting around us.
    Family Passport HolderWhen traveling with the whole family, especially when you are at least three people, a family passport holder is a massive convience. It is specifically designed to accommodate all the necessary items, such as passports, printed flight tickets (in Shanghai they didn’t accept mobile boarding cards), cards (like a residence permit card in case you don’t have a printed visa page in your passport), and even small items that you fear might get lost, such as keys, notes, coins and even a USB stick. Any product that helps you stay organized is a life-saver when traveling with kids.
    Portable Fast Charger Power Bank

    Even though you can find plenty of places to charge your phone at the airport or in Shanghai, I still believe that a power bank is a must-have item, especially for long journeys. As you’re probably aware, kids never let you stay in one place and sit still for long. With a reliable power bank, you can have a more relaxed time walking around with your kids while still being able to charge your phone, in which you might have a ticket or health declaration QR code (required when we went to Shanghai).

    During our flight from Shanghai to Helsinki we had bad luck, the USB port for phone charging was broken. Luckily, we had our power bank with us. However, even if the USB port is working, they tend to have very low maximum current, meaning a modern phone will charge super slowly.

    Own care set

    • Wound Cleanser
    • Wound Healing Gel / Cream
    • Nail Clipper
    • Waterproof Bandages for Wounds
    • Painkillers
    No matter where we go, when I’m out with the kids, I always make sure to prepare my own care set. Kids are constantly on the move, and even when they’re right in front of you, you never know what might happen to them in the next second. Due to flight regulations, I can only bring the smallest sprays or creams, but they are usually sufficient for handling minor injuries during the journey. However, it’s not just the kids who need care – parents should also take care of themselves. Painkillers have been a lifesaver for us, especially when dealing with headaches after staying awake and looking after the kids during journeys lasting over 14 hours.
    Purse Organizer InsertI’m a big fan of keeping things organized and easily accessible, especially when traveling with the whole family. There are so many small items that end up in a purse, and without a purse organizer insert, it can quickly become a mess. That’s why I always make sure to have a purse organizer insert bag with a zipper. It’s perfect for holding not only my own care set but also other essentials like earphones, a charging cable, and earplugs. Even if a liquid spray or cream were to accidentally leak during the journey, I don’t need to worry about it making a mess of other items in my purse.
    Apple AirTag

    During a previous trip to Sweden, we had a dreadful experience when our luggage went missing. To avoid similar incidents in the future, we got some Airtags to track our belongings during our journeys. By placing an Airtag in our check-in luggage, we can easily see if it has been transferred during our transfers and if it has arrived with us at our destination. Obviously, the luggage might still go missing, but mentally it is very nice to know where it is. We also heard that airport staff sometimes are helpful and let you pick it up if you show them that it is at the airport.

    We were also a little worried about the kids getting lost in China, so sometimes we let them have an airtag in their pocket for ease of mind. They never got lost, but we realized that it was very useful anyway, since we could find each other easier when we split up. An Airtag doesn’t require any Internet connection, so, when my husband walked somewhere, I could easily see where he was and join him. Since he had no Internet, this was very useful.

    We hope the list above set you up for a pleasant trip, and help you get ready for the next step, the actual traveling.

    At the Airport

    For our trip, we left our stroller at home and used a carrier. We got a Berlin airport using public transportation. All went fine, but at Berlin airport, we quickly realized not bringing a stroller was a mistake. Not because our children can’t walk, but because our youngest daughter kept running around in the airport, all over the place. Luckily we found a stroller we could lend at the airport (we asked at the information desk, after security) after a while, and that made it so much easier to wait for the flight. We were saved but made a mental note that having a cheap travel stroller would have saved us a lot of stress.

    Luckily we managed to lend a stroller at Berlin airport from the information desk after security (air-side). A Chicco London Up Buggy, which was very nice.

    At the airport we had to make a diaper change just before security. We couldn’t find any good locations, so we had to use a bench we found. Luckily, our fully stocked portable diaper changing pad made it fairly easy. We had everything at hands reach and well-organized.

    Once through security, we, as said, were lucky and could borrow a stroller. Our alternative would be to use our carrier, but, it was pretty warm at the airport, so that wouldn’t have been ideal. With our daughter in the stroller, all went pretty well.

    During the Flight

    The first flight segment was fairly short, from Berlin to Helsinki. Roughly 1h 30min. A common recommendation is to breastfeed your child during lift-off and landing. For this a breastfeeding cover scarf is helpful, and luckily we were prepared. Other than that, make sure to stash up with snacks, drinks, toys, coloring books, and similar. The airline often gives something for your children to play with, but, depending on flight length and how picky your children are, it might not be enough to keep them occupied.

    Our almost five year old son could get immersed in watching cartoons only with noise cancellation headphones. We and fellow passengers owe Bose a thank you!

    The second flight segment was from Helsinki to Shanghai and took roughly 13 hours. We were lucky that our daughter slept most of the time. Our four-year-old son had a tougher time falling asleep and remain calm though. We tried letting him watch cartoons on the flight’s entertainment system, but initially, it didn’t work too well. He would get distracted and become a bit naughty. After a while we let him use our noise-cancellation headphones instead, and to our surprise, he gets really focused on the cartoon. Of course, if you have the energy and ability to play, that is better than screen time. But, if not, noise-cancellation headphones can be surprisingly effective. Perhaps children have a harder time focusing on something, or getting immersed in it, when there’s a lot of noise.

    Arriving in Shanghai

    Just before disembarking the flight it was time for a nappy change. While the aircraft does have a changing table, we still used our diaper-changing pad on top of it, since it feels more hygienic, and it has everything you need easily accessible.

    After getting off we looked for strollers at the airport, but couldn’t find any. We ended up using our carrier. The airport had good air conditioning, so it wasn’t too warm. We went through immigration and got our luggage (which we knew was there thanks to having air-tagged it!). We could also easily find our luggage, since we used the colorful luggage straps, which despite being a great product, still aren’t that popular (only our luggage used them). Regardless if luggage straps actually reduce the risk of your bag opening up or not, we find them worth it because it is so easy to spot your bag. Of course, pre-children, we had no issue spotting our bags. But with children, you are both more tired after a long flight and distracted while waiting for the luggage.

    Once we had our luggage, we headed to the Maglev train to get into the city center.

    In Shanghai

    Our almost two year old daughter in a GB Pockit stroller we lent from a friend in Shanghai.

    We quickly regretted not having bought a cheap travel stroller, it would have been nice during the trip and now when we arrived. While we still could go out and walk around, Shanghai turned out to be a bit warmer than expected, and more humid than we’re used to. Using a carrier wasn’t an option. On the first day, we mixed carrying our daughter and letting her walk herself. It worked fairly well, but later we managed to lend a GB Pockit from a friend living in Shanghai. This stroller did have a massively positive impact on our, and our daughters’, experience. We were also surprised by how nice the stroller is. If you are tall, it is a little uncomfortable that the handle height isn’t adjustable, but for a compact stroller, a height-adjustable handle is not especially common. But the stroller was easy to use, small enough to get around everywhere and folded in a few seconds, and really tiny when folded. It also has a handle so you easily can carry it around when folded.


    As long as you have your travel documents and credit card, you will most likely be fine. But traveling with children can be quite challenging, a much greater challenge compared to traveling without children. But being prepared and organized helps and can make the trip much more pleasant. There are a lot of great products out there that can make things easier for you, for instance, compact travel strollers, portable diaper changing pads, and surprisingly enough, noise-cancellation headphones. We wish you safe and enjoyable travels.